February 25, 2017
Hope you’re all well.
This newsletter has Annual Letters from smart people giving ideas away for free, corporate espionage over self-driving cars, and my favourite video game has been cracked by Deep Learning.
“It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.”
Stealing secrets of one of the most impactful technologies over the next 5 years. Someone call David Fincher.
“If we could show you only one number that proves how life has changed for the poorest, it would be 122 million—the number of children’s lives saved since 1990.”
“One word sums up our country’s achievements: miraculous. From a standing start 240 years ago – a span of time less than triple my days on earth – Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.
You need not be an economist to understand how well our system has worked. Just look around you. See the 75 million owner-occupied homes, the bountiful farmland, the 260 million vehicles, the hyper-productive factories, the great medical centres, the talent-filled universities, you name it – they all represent a net gain for Americans from the barren lands, primitive structures and meagre output of 1776. Starting from scratch, America has amassed wealth totalling $90 trillion.”
Also check out his bet of an S&P index vs 5 hedge fund’s performance.
“The most successful companies I’ve worked with have a significant competitive advantage—network effect, proprietary technology, complex coordination, or barrier to entry of some other sort. I understand in theory it’s possible to build a very successful commodity company, but I don’t know how to do it.”
“There’s one more trend I want to mention, though it’s not about a specific market. I think we’re now in the era of hyperscale technology companies. If you believe Metcalfe’s law, it stands to reason that network-effected technology companies are now far more powerful than ever before, simply because the number of people connected to the internet keeps getting bigger, and n2 gets big really fast.
Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have powerful advantages that are still not fully understood by most founders and investors. I expect that they will continue to do a lot of things well, have significant data and computation advantages, be able to attract a large percentage of the most talented engineers, and aggressively buy companies that get off to promising starts. This trend is unlikely to reverse without antitrust action, and I suggest people carefully consider its implications for startups. There will of course be areas where these companies are naturally weaker, and these are good areas to start companies.”
“Nonetheless, we will show that it is possible to train agents that are competitive against and even surpass human professionals, a new result for the multi-player video game setting.”
“In this presentation, a16z general partner Alex Rampell discusses the underlying trends, shifts, and where opportunities for the tech industry lie thanks to mobile as the router through the digital wallet “stack”. Various startups have been unbundling specific pieces of the bank homepage for a while now, so how will companies now rebundle around payments in new ways? How does digitizing the mobile wallet affect other companies? And finally, how does all this affect marketing?”
Failure to mention Monzo and other challenger banks looking to create new online banking platforms that will plug and play nicely with these unbundled services, but otherwise an insightful presentation.
“In the past quarter its revenues increased by 55%, reaching $2.2bn, and in the past 12 months its share price has almost quadrupled.”
Nvidia is the big winner in AI so far.
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, questions or feedback please get in contact. Have a nice Thursday.
I'm Henry Moulton, a software design and development freelancer living in London, UK.
My portfolio will be online soon.